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Thursday 11th
posted by Morning Star in Arts

Peggy Seeger Queen Elizabeth Hall, London SE1/Touring 5/5

A DECADE ago, Peggy Seeger’s 70th-birthday concert brought together the best of the British and US folk tradition to pay tribute with brothers Mike and Pete Seeger as guests.

Sadly, they are both no longer with us and Seeger experienced serious illness last year but any fears that this concert would be a somewhat low-key affair in comparison are soon laid to rest.

Seeger provides a good-humoured and crowd-pleasing evening, interspersed with amusing anecdotes about growing old.

Backed by her sons Neil and Calum MacColl and with guest appearances by Paul Brady and Eliza Carthy, she’s easily able to get the audience singing in chorus with a range of instruments including guitar, banjo, concertina and piano.

Her songs reflect her political concerns, including trade union rights and environmental destruction and particularly noteworthy are Sing About These Hard Times and the poignant Aragon Mill.

The second set sees Seeger deliver numbers from her new CD Everything Changes, including the title track with reflections on her mother Ruth Crawford Seeger and Swim to the Star, a haunting song about the Titanic disaster.

Then Neil and Calum MacColl lead on two of their father Ewan’s songs Sweet Thames Flow Softly and The Joy of Living, followed by Seeger singing the song MacColl wrote for her The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face.

At the end all the artists join forces for a rousing rendition of Get Up and Go, a fun song about the trials and tribulations of growing old made famous by legendary US folk group The Weavers, whose members included Pete Seeger and the recently departed Ronnie Gilbert.

It’s a truly joyous occasion, leaving many audience members with the thought that perhaps growing old won’t be such a bad thing after all.

Touring until July 31,

Review by Steve Johnson